The debate on repealing public financing

Listening to the debate on C-SPAN this morning, I cannot help but notice the disconnect between the Democrats, arguing in opposition to H.B. 359 and for keeping tax financing of elections, and reality.  Every Democrat to speak so far has complained about Citizens United, and complained about lack of disclosure, even though, as lead sponsor Tom Cole has commented, Citizens United is a Supreme Court decision, and the bill does not change any of the current disclosure provisions in the law.

At a larger level, several opponents of the measure, including Jim McDermott, David Price, and Lynn Woolsey, have commented about Watergate. Each repeats the reform mantra, “the system has served the nation well,” sounding a bit like the brainwashed soldiers in The Manchurian Candidate. As Dan Lundgren has pointed out, there is no evidence that government financing has increased confidence in government or prevented scandal. The opposition seems to be living in another world—a world in which there are still no spending choices to be made, and in which the value of a bill is measured not by any real world metric, but by free-floating ideology detached from the observable realities of the world around us.

I’m also chuckling now as Nancy Pelosi argues that DISCLOSE had “bipartisan support” in the House in the last Congress. Two Republicans (Mike Castle and Joseph Cao, both defeated last year) voted for it; 36 Democrats voted against it. That’s her idea of bipartisan support, I guess. Pelosi is also saying that repealing public funding allows for more “foreign” participation in U.S. campaigns, a flatly untrue statement. Pelosi has also said that repeal will not reduce the deficit. Hmmm… so not spending money won’t reduce the deficit?

The debate from the opposition side is simply surreal—totally disconnected from the actual bill before the House, or from presenting any actual facts in favor of the program.